Obama Orders the Creation of Panel in Effort to Boost Jobs

U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order today formally announcing the creation of an outside panel of economic advisers led by Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric Co.’s chief executive officer.

Obama announced on Jan. 21 that Immelt would take the helm of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. It replaces a similar panel, the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which was formed in February 2009 with former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker as its head. Immelt, 54, GE’s CEO since 2001, was also a member of that group.

The new panel, established within the Treasury Department, was created to help ensure "the availability of nonpartisan advice to the president from participants in and experts on the economy," according to the executive order.

Among the members, who are appointed by the president, are "citizens chosen to serve as representatives of the various sectors of the economy," including employers and workers. The panel will end in two years and members will not be paid for their service, though they may receive compensation for transportation expenses.

“The past two years was about moving our economy back from the brink,” Obama said earlier this month as he stood alongside Immelt during an event in Schenectady, New York, home of the birthplace of GE’s energy business. “Our job now is putting our economy into overdrive.”

He said Immelt “understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy.”

As head of the world’s biggest maker of jet engines, medical-imaging equipment and power-plant turbines, Immelt gives the White House a corporate heavyweight to help burnish Obama’s pro-business credentials.

While the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has risen more than 50 percent since Obama took office, the country is dealing with the longest stretch of unemployment rates above 9 percent since monthly records began in 1948.